The Gospel According to Rizpah

A sermon from Dr. Wil Gafney (right), October 17, 2021) on 2 Samuel 21:1-14; Psalm 58; Revelation 6:9-11; Luke 6:43-45

*Re-posted from Dr. Gafney’s website. Click here to watch or listen to the video.

Yesterday, we talked about the women’s stories in scripture that we do and do not hear taught and preached. Sometimes we don’t hear stories of women because their pieces are scattered like breadcrumbs throughout the scriptures and it takes a major archaeological excavation to gather all of those pieces together and far too many preachers say, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” Well, I got time today.

Let us pray: May the preached word draw you deeper into the written word and kindle in you the matchless love of the incarnate word. Amen.

Before the mothers of the Black Lives Matter movement, there was Rizpah. Before the mothers of women and men and children swinging in the southern breeze as strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees, there was Rizpah. Before the mothers of the Maafa, the African-Atlantic holocaust, there was Rizpah.

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What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Facing Apocalypse with Eloquence

By Jim Perkinson, a sermon for Detroit Unitarian Universalist Church (9-26-21)

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Climate Catastrophe Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Voter Suppression Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Collapse Health Care with Cavalier

COVID Response Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Right Wing Authoritarianism Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Billionaire On-the-Take Booty Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Flee to Mars If You Are Elon Musk

 Time

What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: You Fill In the Blank—What Time Is

It For You!

This title question was a favorite litmus test query any time someone met with the late great Eastside Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs over the last ten years of her extraordinary life.  In vernacular counterpoint to Boggs’ more philosophical probe, garbage-art impresario Tyree Guyton of Heidelberg Project fame—also on the Eastside—festoons many of the trees of his bright throbbing block with clocks whose hands salute the hours every which way.  Each asks outside the politesse of our typical interactions, what hour do you think it is—really?  

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The Spirits of the Lynched

By Dwight L. Wilson, originally posted to Facebook on October 3, 2021

I have been a social activist since my first marches before Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In this week alone, I was involved in on-going projects in separate cities with police oversight, warrant resolution, and public health; in the county I worked on environmental protection; nationwide with responsible gun control.

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Blistering Hope

By Ken Sehested, the curator of Prayer & Politiks

Given the quivering state of our body politic, assailed from every side, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how to sustain hope by way of persevering toil. As Daniel Berrigan once noted, the struggle for justice, the pursuit of peace, the advocacy of human rights in all their varied shape and kind, is sometimes “like pulling a piano through a plowed field.”

Thinking on these things, I remembered an older poem written from my years as a stone mason, “Blistering hope.”

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Blistering Hope

A stonemason’s meditation on perseverance

When cutting capstone, carefully measured, from a larger block with nothing but hammer and chisel, you come to know the necessity of blister-raising toil to achieve envisioned result.

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Love Reckons with the Past

An excerpt from Kiese Laymon’s classic 2015 essay “Black Churches Taught Us to Forgive White People. We Learned to Shame Ourselves,” published in the wake of the white supremacist mass murder at Emanuel AME in Charleston, SC

Many of us have made a life of hoping to get chosen for jobs, chosen for awards, chosen for acceptance from people, structures and corporations bred on white supremacy. We’re hoping to get chosen by people who can not see us. Knowing that they hate and terrorize us doesn’t stop us from wanting to get chosen. That’s the crazy thing. Everything about this country told Grandma, a black woman born in Central Mississippi in 1920s, to love, honor and forgive white folks. And this country still tells me, a black boy born in Mississippi in the 1970s, to titillate and tend to the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of white people in my work.

I told my Grandma that we should have chosen ourselves. I tell her that we should have let us in. We should have held each other, and fallen in healthy love with each other, instead of watching shame make parts of us disappear.

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That’s How It Goes

By Antonio Cosme (Detroit, MI)

my words to the City of Detroit City Planning Commission after my friend David Pitawanakwat gave an awesome Land Acknowledgement…

My name is Antonio Cosme, a coahuiltecan and boricua life long detroiter. I do a lot of work with anishinaabe folks… i’ve been adopted by the martins family, a prominent west michigan anishinaabe family.

I work at National Wildlife Federation, connecting kids with nature, and looking deeply with them at the roots of the ecological crisis we’re all facing… colonization.

We are critical people yet, we do beautiful things too…

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Whose Side Are We On?

Folks committed to a biblical faith, but also demanding beefed up border security have a serious problem. They will struggle to find support in the sacred text. Throughout the Hebrew bible, God is devoted to steadfast love, justice and a faithfulness to the most vulnerable, often simplified with this trifecta: widows, orphans and immigrants. In the Christian scriptures, Jesus says that those who are faithful will find him rising up in immigrants and welcome them. Images like this interrogate us. Whose side are we on?

Adelante

By Ruth Sawin, a letter to Daniel Berrigan (right)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dear Fr. Dan,            

Having just finished your book, “The Steadfastness of the Saints,” on the flight home from El Salvador, I want to tell you of the gift that reading it on this journey has been, for me.               

I must first, of course, mention the twist in the gut that comes with reading about the work of Central American Jesuits, written five years before the martyrdom of six of them at the University of Central America, and more, since. You could not have known that would come, although I think you and all who worked in mission in Central America then knew that it was always a possibility.               

Also, during this trip we got the electrifying news that Fr. Jon Sobrino had announced that Rome announced on Tuesday (the day after we visited his tomb) that Monseñor Romero would be beatified in 2015… news which was contradicted in the edition of “La Prensa” I saw on the trip home. It seems fitting, given all the confusion that surrounded him in life, that news (or rumors) of the official recognition of the sainthood long recognized by the people, would come in confusing fits and starts. It really doesn’t matter; I still hear God whispering, “Adelante!”               

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Collective Memory

From Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, re-posted from Facebook (9/10/2021).

Before you post that #neverforget sentiment tomorrow, ask yourself; in the last 20 years have I told any Black or Indigenous person that they need to “get over it” “move on” “forgive and forget” when they posted about historical trauma? I know for a fact that some of you have. You no longer get to choose what is preserved as collective memory.

Summer Reading Subverting Supremacy Stories

By Tommy Airey, exclusively for RadicalDiscipleship.Net

This summer, Lindsay and I maneuvered a ministry of migration. We pivoted between and beyond the Kirkridge Retreat Center in the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania, a studio apartment two blocks from the Deschutes River in Central Oregon and a wide stretch of beach on the Pacific Ocean on Acjachemen land in Southern California. I spent some of this time working on a book that lays out a biblical spirituality for white folks and middle-class people breaking rank from the default narratives of dominant culture. Those of us navigating the wilderness that borders both fundamentalism and liberalism need a spiritual training program for the ultra-marathon race of recognizing and resisting the supremacy stories scripted by whiteness, hetero-patriarchy, the profit motive, the penal system and patriotism.

My friend Sarah Nahar says this kind of inner work is like shedding colonial codes of conduct. Rev. Lynice Pinkard compares it to learning another language: speaking treason fluently. I like breaking rank because it sounds so subversive—what spirituality should be. Break rank with supremacy stories and you’ll gain your soul—and lose your social respectability. Try calling out capitalism at your church potluck. It sounds like a conspiracy, which in Latin means “to breathe with.” To grow our souls, us middle-class folk need mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Because our hearts have stopped. But here’s the rub: we can only get CPR from those chronically oppressed by supremacy stories. So we start breathing with those who are Black and Brown, Indigenous and Immigrant, women and working poor.  

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